Young children cannot read words on a page, however, they can talk very well.
They did not need to read words so that they could learn to speak.
Why should violinists need to read music before they can learn to play music!
Children learn speech by imitating and repeating their parents.
Let me summarize:
1. Children can speak before they can read words
Conclusion: CHILDREN CAN PLAY VIOLIN BEFORE THEY CAN READ MUSIC
2. Children learn to speak through imitation and repetition of sound
Conclusion: CHILDREN CAN LEARN TO PLAY THE VIOLIN THROUGH IMITATION AND REPETITION OF SOUND
This is the basis of the Suzuki “mother tongue method” of violin teaching.
WHEN DO CHILDREN LEARN TO READ MUSIC?
Most children can learn to read music as soon as they learn to read words. This is the way that I teach the Suzuki method and it seems that I am not alone in this. Please read:
“. . .. Suzuki continued the analogy of language/reading acquisition right through. He observed that children learned to speak first, years before they started to read or write Japanese characters. So he allowed these early starters to progress quite a long way on their instruments before he introduced music note reading. For a child starting at age 2½ or 3 years, they might even have reached book 4 before he introduced written notation. This was most appropriate for children starting so young. But, as soon as these children had grasped their Japanese characters and were starting to read fluently– that is they had developed an understanding of the connection between symbols on a page having another meaning, he would introduce music reading.”
(From an article called “To Read Or Not To Read” from “succeed with music”)